Pulitzer Prize Administrator Dana Canedy, former senior editor at The New York Times, announced the finalists and winners of the 2020 Pulitzer Prizes via video stream this afternoon at 3:00. The Pulitzer Prize for Drama, one of seven categories of awards in the Arts & Letters, was awarded to A Strange Loop by Michael R. Jackson. The prize-winning self-referencing musical about a gay black writer battling demons had its critically acclaimed world premiere at Playwrights Horizons last summer.
Heroes of the Fourth Turning by Will Arbery and Soft Power by David Henry Hwang and Jeanine Tesori were recognized as finalists. Both also played Off-Broadway engagements in the 2019-20 season and, like A Strange Loop, have been nominated for multiple New York theater awards.
First presented in 1917, the Pulitzer Prizes were established following a bequest by the Hungarian-American journalist and newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911. The funding was used to found its School of Journalism in 1912, and a portion was designated for the eponymous prizes.
A jury of five, usually comprised of three critics, one academic, and one playwright from the nineteen-member Pulitzer Board, determines the finalists and winner of the Prize for Drama, after attending plays in New York and at regional theaters. The award goes to a playwright, but the production of the play and the script are also considered.
In her introductory remarks, Canedy noted that “the arts have the power to sustain, unite, and inspire us during times of uncertainty and fear . . . Many are finding needed distraction . . . and joy in a recorded theatrical performance. And while theaters across the nation are now dark, we know that their lights will shine brightly, once again.”
Congratulations to the honored playwrights; we look forward to seeing their entertaining and inspiring work back on stage once the present health crisis has ended and it’s safe to return.